Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Working with my Focus Student

For the duration of my time working in my fourth grade class, there is one specific student that I have spent a great deal of time helping. Alexa* is a kind, outgoing, and charismatic fourth grader who struggles in regards to her literacy development. When our spring semester commenced, my CT became aware of my literacy focus for the remainder of the year; therefore, he asked that I spend some quality time working with Alexa on her reading skills (specifically pertaining to her comprehension strategies and level of fluency). Seeing as how I was in the field during the students’ reading workshop time, I was able to spend a large amount of my time working one-on-one with Alexa. At the outset, I had Alexa pick out books she was either interested in, or books she was reading in her reading group, and we would sit in the hallway as she slowly worked her way through the various stories. This allowed the two of us time to develop a friendly, comfortable, and supportive relationship.

As our relationship solidified, I made a point to speak to Alexa directly, in regards to the reasons behind our working together. First, I explained that we’re working together for a reason, and I asked her opinion as to why that is. Alexa is an intelligent and observant kid; she was/is well aware of the difficulties she encounters in regards to her reading ability, and she had no problem articulating this to me. I took this opportunity to talk to Alexa about some specifics; where she struggles, why, how we can help her through our work together, and how she can help HERSELF.

After talking to my CT, I’ve come to the realization that students need to understand and participate in their attempt to achieve academic success. Through direct, and explicit, conversations with students (in regards to their specific struggles), I believe children will feel an ownership, and take more responsibility for their learning; exactly what I was striving for with Alexa.

As the semester has progressed, the activities we participate in together have slowly evolved. About four or five weeks ago, (I think), my CT and I took some time to sit and discuss Alexa’s development. As it turned out, my CT had recently been a participant at a literacy conference that focused on comprehension strategies and the importance of fluency in struggling readers. Obviously, Alexa was at the forefront of his mind. At this point, I had the opportunity to do some research on the literature my CT received at the conference. (I’ve been meaning to ask him the name of the conference, as well as the name of the text, but it keeps slipping my mind). I learned a great deal, and I’ve been able to execute a variety of strategies while working with Alexa.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog post about Alexa* was really interesting to me. I really thought it was great that you took some time to know the student. Many times it is easy to overlook the fact that we should spend time getting to know our students individually not only to learn their likes/dislikes, but also to understand their strengths and weaknesses in regards to academics. I also thought it was great that you took the time to ask the student why she thought you guys had been spending time in the hallway. It is important that students understand the reasoning behind why they are doing certain things because it allows the students to think metacognitively about their own work. I might not have thought about asking her why you guys had been spending time in the hallway, so it was a great piece of advice that I can carry with me when working with my focus students for the upcoming weeks at my placement. Since I am working in a 4/5 split classroom next year, this is one of the things that I carry with me when working with individual students. If you could also ask your teacher about the conference he attended, that would be great to know some of the comprehension strategies that he learned, that I could maybe use next year when working on literacy with my fourth and fifth grade students. Thanks for sharing your experiences!